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Gates of Heaven

Where to Watch Gates of Heaven


Gates of Heaven, an evocative documentary film released in 1978, is a composition of wonderfully ordinary and yet extraordinary moments all revolving around the concept of pet cemeteries. This film features Lucille Billingsley, Zella Graham, Cal Harberts, along with other individuals involved in the business or clientele of pet cemeteries. Its compelling subject matter marks an interesting example of the all-consuming passion and unanticipated paths that life can take.

Errol Morris, the film's director, implements a style that remarkably highlights the humanity of every character. He invites the viewer into the lives and experiences of people for whom notion of pet death is a deeply moving, personal journey. The beauty of Gates of Heaven is in the manner it portrays its subjects. The people in the film come across as profoundly nuanced and caring individuals and not placeholders adding substance to the narrative.

The film is primarily centered around two Californian pet cemeteries - the Foothill Pet Cemetery and the Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park. While these cemeteries make up the infrastructure of the narrative, the movie explores themes that run much deeper than merely the trade of burying pets. It explores the nature of humanity, the connection between humans and animals, the concept of death, and the idea of an afterlife.

The film begins by highlighting the story of Floyd McClure, a man who wanted to establish a pet cemetery out of love for his Collie dog, who was hit by a car and died. However, McClure's challenge to secure financial support resulted in the necessity to exhume over 450 animal corpses from the Foothill Pet Cemetery. This emotionally charged history forms the foundation of the plotline, setting the tone for the broader narratives explored throughout the footage.

The narrative then shifts to focus on the Harberts family, the proprietors of the Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park. The family comprises Cal Harberts and his sons, Phil and Dan. Cal, the patriarch, is a self-made businessman, with a firm belief in the American Dream. His sons contribute in differing ways to the family business. Phil handles the daily operation of the cemetery from exhuming pets to consoling grieving pet owners, while Dan, the more philosophical of the two, contributes in less tactile but equally critical ways.

Interlaced throughout are interviews with pet owners as well. Their anecdotes and sharing of love towards their pets adds depth to the presentation, unmasking a facet of human life often overlooked. The sorrow and depth of loss that pet owners feel are portrayed with respect and empathy, offering poignant insights into the human-animal bond.

In addition, the movie delves into examinations of family dynamics, differing philosophies, and opinions about life and death. It expands on a unique symbiosis between life and commerce, underlining philosophical insights on our mortality and love for our pets. The movie also reflects on consequences of running a business that, at its core, deals with loss and grieving - not just as an economic entity, but as a part of the community it serves.

Lucille Billingsley and Zella Graham, as part of the ensemble, add much color and character to the narrative, enriching the story with their reflections and impressions about life, death, pets, and everything in between. Morris' nuanced direction employs the interviews with these women, and other pet owners, to evoke strong emotional depth, making audiences reflect on their own lives and relationships.

Errol Morris with his innovative style and narrative structure introduces the viewer to an obscure segment of American life - pet cemeteries. Yet, Gates of Heaven delves into common themes that connect us all, making it a resounding exploration of human nature through an uncommon prism. The film is not driven by a traditional story arc, rather gets its strength from the candid dialogues, subtle humor, and the thought-provoking philosophical insights on life, death, and companionship.

Gates of Heaven is beautified with its individual profiles, presenting a unique slice-of-life film, where every character has something profound to offer. From a pet singer serenading graves to a manager struggling with his beliefs about life after death, every interview presents a perspective often leaving the audience in contemplation.

In conclusion, Gates of Heaven is a poignant and heart-warming exploration of life and death viewed through the unusual lens of pet cemeteries, presenting a subtle commentary on the human condition. It's an extraordinary examination into the compelling world of pet cemeteries exposing the deep human-animal bond and how it intertwines with everyday life, love, and loss.

Gates of Heaven is a Documentary movie released in 1978. It has a runtime of 85 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.3..

How to Watch Gates of Heaven

Where can I stream Gates of Heaven movie online? Gates of Heaven is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, The Roku Channel, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Gates of Heaven for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Errol Morris
Also starring Kang Seong-jin
Gates of Heaven is available on .